Step outside of your boozy persona

Living Sober blog image-candle

Alcohol takes us to places that we would never go when sober. Dark places. Dangerous places.

I’ve done some terrible things under the influence of alcohol that make me shudder today. Things that I have never shared publicly which says a lot about how dark they are because I’ve written many hundreds of thousands of words – in blogs and books and social media posts – about my addiction. I’ve written about many shameful, embarrassing and humiliating events. I’ve written about falling over and vomiting. I’ve written about being emotionally absent and careless. I have shared a lot. But there are one or two things that I haven’t shared and never will.

The only reason I’m admitting this here is because dysfunctional drinking breaks us down slowly.. inch by inch eroding our self worth and self confidence. Add in a couple of extremely shameful or dangerous incidents and we’re deeply weakened. And in that weakened state it’s so hard for us to find the strength to turn things around.

But I think it’s worth recognising that not everything we do when boozed is true of our natural character. We are not our boozy selves. We are not the sum of our drinking exploits. We are not. Our natural character is our sober selves. It’s vital to recognise this and be able to momentarily step outside of our boozy persona to find strength to turn things around.

The moment I re-discovered my inner strength and started on my path to recovery was the moment I realised that my drinking problem wasn’t about me – it was about alcohol. I had a profound moment of separation (sitting on the loo in tears at 3am after my last ever booze binge) when I had a very clear thought: the problem isn’t me, the problem is the alcohol me.

The problem isn’t me, the problem is the alcohol.

Take the alcohol away and the problem is gone.

Last week I revisited the site of one of my most awful drunken memories. I honestly shudder to think about what I did in this place many years ago. I’m hardly ever there any more as it’s near my old house on the other side of town. But last week I found myself in the vicinity and paid a visit.

I walked around the place slowly, reliving my past exploits, accutely aware of how much of a changed woman I am today – over six years sober, grounded, calm and full of respect for myself. I pictured the old me doing that terrible thing and felt very sad and ashamed, but also deeply compassionate for her (me) that she (I) was reduced to such behaviour.

But mostly I felt pride and gratitude. Pride that I have turned my life around. And gratitude that I found my true self underneath all the alcohol, and left that shit behind.

  1. Poppy88 6 years ago

    Ahh the memories. I have spent way to many days ‘remembering’ or not being able too more to the point. The sheer panic that sets in when I opened my eyes the morning after the night before thinking who do I need to call to see if I behaved or not. Days, hours, weeks, months years of this. Moderation did not work for me, heck moderating with low alcohol wine didn’t do the trick either. Not sure whats different this time, no Big Bang, no earth shattering event, no major stuff up while drunk, just enough to know I have the memories is enough to keep me away. That and how much I LOVE my sleep, and even if there is a night my sleep might get interrupted, the next day is still so much more better. I love being sober and I love being sober the longest I’ve been since 2014. I also love this place!

  2. Trijntje 6 years ago

    Thanks Lotta. Yes memories are horrible. I have had arguments with myself from when I was a small child and very low self esteem. I picked up only at 25. It has been a permanent struggle. I discovered Living Sober 5 weeks ago and have found your courage very inspiring. I am searching for peace with myself. The hurt that alcohol causes is unbelievable. I start daily with LS and I hope it will get me to a space not controlled by addiction and compulsive obsessive behaviour! Thanks again

  3. Onwardsandupwards 6 years ago

    Thankyou for this post Lotta. It’s comforting to hear that time heals old wounds.

    I think one of the reasons I keep drinking is because I don’t want to think about some of the the really bad memories of things I’ve done while drunk.

    So I’ve decided every time a horrible memory pops into my head I will repeat a new mantra : “That was then. This is now”.

    If anyone has any other sayings they tell themselves to deal with the shameful memories I”d love to hear them.

  4. Cassie 6 years ago

    I’m sitting in maccas with tears in my eyes. The person I am with alcohol added is soooo horrible! I’m so grateful for Mrs d post and all the comments, my worst fear is that I’ll never be able to stop

  5. Clare 6 years ago

    Beautiful post,touched my heart.
    I’m lying on our very comfy big bed (Xmas present for me & hubby),it’s raining,thunder,it’s soothing.House work all done,fresh roses on my dresser,had a yummy small tea,just settled.
    Neighbors are having a booze up on both sides,haha,bugger that.
    Happy sober weekend

  6. Kerris 6 years ago

    Love your honest post Mrs D. Many a dark memory in my mind at times I am learning to forgive myself and not wallow in the memories.

  7. Connie 6 years ago

    Thanks for such brave honesty. I am two years sober and the shame I carry for those over the top moments is still big in my heart. And they weren’t that big. But the self loathing is the biggest hurdle in sobriety. You help so much by getting real in your recovery with all of us who have so been there. One good thing: I don’t think I will ever take my sobriety for granted. It’s a choice I make every day.

  8. Sassafrass-t 6 years ago

    I am relating to this from a different angle. I have been on the receiving end of hurt from an addict., my daughter. I am deeply saddened by her loss of self. I offer forgiveness and compassion as much as I can and understanding which comes from my own struggles w overdrinking. I always try to remember who she was before the addiction and i am thankful to see glimpses of that person on occasion.

  9. NoMore 6 years ago

    That’s a good thought when beating ourselves up in the wee hours and telling ourselves we are worthless. We are fabulous. The alcohol robs us of who we are. If we truly look at who we become when drunk, we simply have to change and take back control

  10. Anonymous 6 years ago

    I am so glad to read this. I had one of those moments only three nights ago. While I am not hoping to forget and am not ready to forgive myself, reading this made me recognize that when I take away alcohol, I take away the problem. I have given it up for lengths of time before, but after this past weekend, I am committed.

  11. Iowadawn 6 years ago

    I just LOVE this, Mrs D!! You are just fabolous..I am at 144 days today. My “first” time around was from Nov 2016 until May 2017(work in edu nation..summer holiday .huge Love deployed overseas..all 5 of my kids off for summer and the special needs son impending 12 hour skin cancer and plastic impending surgeries..etc etc) Last year of my first AF stretch I did not know about you, or this amazing site. Ironically boozy summer of 2017 I “found” you..and than LS. So…day after my birthday in late August I began , again, my AF journey. It has been tremendous with you and LS. So I thank you!! I love,love,LOVE the humor,downright “tell it as it is” as well as inspiring , “I GET IT” or spot on advice and “I can relate” with you and LS.
    So…yes…I, too, feel the shame and burn of the wine witch hang over/WTF have I done? Oh God..WHAT did I drunk text..kinda horrific moments. I “only” binge drank on weekends or holidays, or completing marathons(I was the “I deserve it” mentality)
    Looking back I can’t believe, in lieu of the destruction and nightmares I achieved on weekend black outs, that I “didn’t have alcohol problem..I’m only weekend drinker” Wine Witch is sly!!
    Thank you for your “spot on” post.

  12. Esharp76 6 years ago

    Great post Mrs D!! Feel the same about quite a few bad situations that the alcohol got me into! And you know what we ‘dont’ have to ever speak of those horrendous times, because we live with the regret and shame everyday and that’s enough …why would we want to share with anyone else and ‘reharsh’ the pain again?! Have just spent an awesome weekend with my ‘recovered, sober Dad of 15years who’s given me heaps of support!! Feeling thankful for this awesome community you created Mrs D xx

  13. bajh 6 years ago

    Yip I have lots of those yuk memories but I read this the other day & try to remind myself of it when feeling yuk!
    “Never be a prisoner of your past, it was just a lesson not a prision sentence.”

  14. trishj 6 years ago

    I’m not very far along this journey at Day 13, but I think a lot about all the horible drunken situations I got myself in to, the nasty person I became, the paranoia, the numerous one night stands…….I was really beating myself up so thank god for this post Mrs D…… are right, it’s not the normal me, I am now the normal me. I am so pleased to have kicked this and can focus on the real me and make me the best possible me I can be. Thank you Mrs D xx

  15. Lucy 6 years ago

    Booze turned me into someone who was loud, argumentative , paranoid, and I couldn’t care less about anything…. Not at all the real me… I am (or was) fearful of everyone and everything… the last drunken day shook me to the core of how alcohol controlled me… I am now feeling better about myself… great post thank you Mrs D.. xxx

    • Iowadawn 6 years ago

      Yes @lucy! Me too!! Oh God the mean drunk texts…and to my Love overseas..who did not obviously deserve it! Never again for us!!!

  16. Mari135 6 years ago

    That had me tear up in a good way because you get it. You get all of it.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  17. Treehugger 6 years ago

    Lotta, thank you so much for this post. I remember someone telling me once, “A drunken mind brings a sober tongue”. I think that is absolute bullshit, many of the things that I said while pissed were so far from the real me. I totally identify with what you said, “not everything we do when boozed is true of our natural character”. I’m a work in progress, but I look forward to reaching the place of pride and gratitude that you describe 🙂

  18. enzedgirl 6 years ago

    “Our natural character is our sober selves.“


    • JR 6 years ago

      I agree with @enzedgirl in really resonating with the statement “our natural character is our sober selves”. And take away alchohol, we take away the problem. Well said!!! Thank you for sharing.

  19. Lars 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this. I needed to hear this.
    Just today I had to force myself to shut down thinking about one of many memories that I want to leave behind. They creep up all of a sudden, and hit with force! And they’ll keep coming, but perhaps the compassion and forgiveness can put them to sleep once and for all.

  20. robynb 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this Lotta. I think we all can relate to this, When I think how my behavior, and partial memories of my drunken antics in a small town pulled me down and kept me from accomplishing all I know I was capable of, it makes me so sad. The same was so weighty! I am learning to cast it off..acknowledge it, and feel compassion for myself.

  21. JM 6 years ago

    Great post @Mrs-D – I have so many awful, humiliating memories, and the incidents were getting worse as the years went on, and I was going at the alcohol harder and faster. I knew I needed to stop and a bunch of circumstances came together to help me get sober. I used to live with a lot shame, believing that I deserved any mistreatment directed at me. Well, I do not. And when I think about those awful times, I think with compassion that it was an attempt to numb the pain, dial down the intensity of being a little introverted in a job that demands extroversion, and to have fun once in awhile, which happened less and less. I am only becoming comfortable in my skin, as I near 50. This sober journey is endlessly enlightening and interesting. Thank-you. xxx

  22. marmite 6 years ago

    Yeah I’ve a few of those memories too. I do revisit them every now and again because now I use them as a source of strength: to never, ever go back there.

  23. Mac007 6 years ago

    Well said Lotta. I can relate to this completely.
    The dark side of memories past.
    The memories, dark as they can be, are good siting there in a safe place in my mind too, reminding me how far I have moved on from that point.
    I often have this vision of the genie stuck in the bottle and a hand reaching in to pull her out before she drowns.
    The genie got the chance to live her own wishes, without the alcohol around her, and it was her own hand that pulled her out of the mess in the end!

  24. reena 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for this Mrs D, it’s odd how the shameful memories seem to surface off and on as the sober time increases, I guess because our minds are clearer.
    Your bravery in talking about your experiences and lighting the way for those of us coming behind you is so appreciated.
    This post came for me at exactly the right time, I was revisiting a memory of a binge that brought me back here six months ago, just this week it kept resurfacing, I am going to practice what you have written, to step inside my sober self and feel how it feels in my own true skin.

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